The government’s plan to make ‘Visit Bangladesh Year-2016’ programme a success still remains a ‘distant dream’ as the private sector stakeholders find lack of pragmatic initiatives to attract foreign tourists to Bangladesh, reports UNB.
The government, according to private stakeholders, is concentrating more on domestic tourists instead of attracting foreign ones, an idea they find contradictory with the concept of ‘Visit Bangladesh’. They suggested a massive campaign on positive Bangladesh in tourist-generating markets with the help of Bangladesh missions abroad, better coordination among ministries concerned and taking effective steps to allure foreign tourists.
“If Visit Bangladesh Year-2016 means to attract foreign tourists, then what about our awareness drive and campaign abroad on Bangladesh,” Taufiq Rahman, Secretary General of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), Bangladesh Chapter told UNB.
Taufiq, also the founder Chief Executive of Journey Plus, suggested formation of small teams of five members comprising representatives from the Home Ministry, Foreign Ministry, Civil Aviation and Tourism Ministry, Bangladesh Tourism Board and one from private tour operators, and carry out awareness campaign in ‘tourist-generating markets’ — Europe, America and Australia. “We need to let the foreigners know things are fine in Bangladesh by removing their negative perceptions, if any,” said the tour operator describing the scenario they faced in 2015.
If this job is done in at least 15 foreign countries with proper video presentation in presence of foreign travel journalists and tour operators, Taufiq said, he is sure Bangladesh will see 40-50 percent improvement in the current tourist gap in Bangladesh.
“I’ve calculated well, and it’ll hardly take Tk 3-4 crore to implement the plan. If such a plan brings 50 percent growth, I think, the government should give a serious look at it,” he said. The tour operator has also suggested the Bangladesh Tourism Board to concentrate on ‘short-haul markets’ – Korea, China, Thailand, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Malaysia.
“These countries are already doing a lot on marketing front. If their tour operators tag Bangladesh as an extended destination, it’ll bring about huge benefits for us,” Taufiq said. Talking to UNB, Syed G Qadir, Managing Director of Wonder Ways Ltd, said Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina herself wants development of the country’s tourism sector.
“But it’s necessary that she gets the message on what we actually need to attract foreign tourists.” Apparently expressing displeasure over the recently held ‘mega beach carnival’ in the beach town of Cox’s Bazar as part of ‘Tourism Year 2016’, he said such carnival cannot bring in foreign tourists.